The mint julep is synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, but serving this classic cocktail to your party guests is welcome any time, especially during warm weather. We've told you how to make a mint julep before, with Ernest Hemingway's mint julep recipe, but if you're making the drink for a crowd, you need a better strategy.
Instead of muddling fresh mint leaves for each individual drink, make a mint simple syrup. Then you can mix the drink together in a pitcher for a big batch mint julep that works on Derby Day or any day.
Creating a mint simple syrup is easy. First, combine a cup water and a cup sugar in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Let the sugar dissolve completely. Remove the pan from the heat and add one cup of mint leaves. Steep the mint while the mixture cools completely, for about three hours.
Find your prettiest large pitcher and pour in a liter and a half of good Kentucky bourbon (Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, but any good bourbon works). Add the chilled mint syrup. When you're ready to serve the drink, fill an old-fashioned glass or julep cup most of the way with crushed ice, then pour in enough minty bourbon to reach about the halfway mark. Top with ice water or chilled soda water and garnish with a mint sprig.
Big Batch Mint Juleps
- 2 cups mint leaves, packed, divided
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 liter Kentucky bourbon
- Chilled water or soda water
- Make ahead: Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil to let the sugar dissolve completely. Remove from heat and add 1 cup mint leaves. Let rest to cool completely and steep. Around three hours is best.
- Add the bourbon to the chilled mint syrup in a large pitcher.
- To serve: Fill a cup most of the way with ice, then pour in enough minty bourbon to reach about the halfway mark. Top with ice water or chilled soda water and garnish with fresh mint.